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Opioid Prescriptions Fall in States with Legal Cannabis

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According to the results of a new study, medical and recreational laws correlate with declining rates of opioid prescriptions. A pre-proof version of the study was published online on Dec. 14 and the study will be published in the January 2020 issue of Journal of Health Economics.

The research team was made up of investigators from University of Alabama School of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. Marijuana Moment reports that the team found medical and recreational cannabis laws reduced morphine milligram equivalents by 11.8 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. A morphine milligram equivalent is the measure of morphine equal to the opioid dose prescribed.

The decreases represented 294 fewer days of opioid prescriptions in states with recreational cannabis laws, and 105 fewer days of opioid prescriptions in states with medical cannabis laws. In addition, the team found that prescriptions fell 28 percent in recreational cannabis states and seven percent in medical cannabis states.

“While the results here do not suggest that cannabis access laws are the only tool to address prescription opioid use, they do suggest that cannabis access laws could play a meaningful role in addressing the opioid epidemic,” explained investigators.

To gather conclusive data, investigators analyzed over 1.5 billion opioid prescriptions between 2011 and 2018. “The results of this study suggest that passing cannabis access laws reduces the use of prescription opioids across several different measures of opioid prescriptions,” investigators added.

According to the team, this latest study paints “the most accurate picture” of the correlation between medical and recreational cannabis laws and the prevalence of opioid prescriptions.

Many other studies offer similar findings connecting cannabis accessibility with opioid use. In 2016, a team of researchers from The University of New Mexico arrived at similar results. Since 1999, opioid addiction has steadily been on the rise. In 2017, over 70,000 overdosed and died from drugs, with 68 percent of the overdoses being linked to 

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